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Samuel Johnson: The Major Works

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  184 ratings  ·  9 reviews
This work presents a selection of Johnson's essays, letters, diaries and fictional and poetical works. The study offers recommended additional reading and notes to give the essence of his work and thinking.
Paperback, 840 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published June 1925)
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I like to think that reading this book—an activity which has occupied me for about the last year of my life—has been rather akin to an arranged marriage. What began without love—or, at most, the minutest spark of attraction—has developed, over the arduous months, into a bond of considerable strength. I can't say that I love Johnson; but I feel, for better or for worse, that he is a part of me now.

The following sub-reviews concern what I deem to be the most important works in this collection, and
Jeff Crompton
Okay, I'm weird. I have an unaccountable affinity for Samuel Johnson, that giant of the 18th century, whose work is often considered ponderous and dated these days. He was conservative, moralistic, and religiously orthodox; these are all traits which don't appeal to me. But I love his writing - a good portion of it, anyway. There's a melancholy in much of his work which touches me - an awareness that much of what happens to us is out of our hands, and that life is short, and death is certain.

Because of the influence of Harold Bloom and Michael Wenzl, I have become a Johnsonian reader (to say that I am a Johnsonian critic is perhaps going too far and overtly flattering myself), and I am consistently amazed by my conversations with people who have no basis for analyzing or evaluating human creativity beyond, "duh, I don't know, I just liked it." Aesthetic pleasure as a critical paradigm is fine, but please learn to enunciate that, people. You might start in the training of your brain ...more
Daniel Klawitter
Brilliant. Highly quotable. A justly honored essayist and wit of English letters.

"Many of the books which now crowd the world may be justly suspected to be written for the sake of some invisible order of beings, for surely they are of no use to any of the corporeal inhabitants of the world." ---from Johnson's 1757 "Review Of Soame Jenyns."
Sebastian Claici
Likely the greatest prose writer in English. Clear, to the point, and with forceful eloquence; one of the few writers where your main thought is: "I wish I could write this well"
He had lots of smart things to say. Of course the quicker way to find out what they were is to google "Samuel Johnson quotes."
A giant of the 18th century. There was no aspect of human striving that he did not comment on.
Read parts of this for my Neoclassicism seminar with Bruce Rose at BJU.
A nice, (and concise) reference book if you like Johnson's work.
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  • Selected Writings
  • The Major Works
  • The Life of Samuel Johnson
  • The Complete Poems
  • John Donne - The Major Works: Including Songs and Sonnets and Sermons
  • The Major Works: including Astrophil and Stella (Oxford World's Classics)
  • Selected Writings
  • The Complete English Poems (Herbert, George)
  • The Major Works
  • Confessions of an English Opium-Eater & Other Writings
  • The Complete Poems
  • The Major Works
  • Brief Lives
  • The Complete Works
  • The Complete Poems and Translations
  • The Yeats Reader, Revised Edition: A Portable Compendium of Poetry, Drama, and Prose
  • The Complete Works of Francois Rabelais
  • The Complete Poems
Samuel Johnson was an English author. Beginning as a Grub Street journalist, he made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, novelist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. Johnson has been described as "arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history". He is also the subject of one of the most celebrated biographies in English, ...more
More about Samuel Johnson...
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia A Journey to the Western Islands of  Scotland and The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides Preface to Shakespeare (Dodo Press) Selected Essays Vanity of Human Wishes

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